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Ga. governor seeks churches’ help for foster children, inmates in transition

ATLANTA (BP)–Newly elected Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue sketched out a plan to involve churches in his “New Georgia” strategy during the second annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast hosted by the Georgia Baptist Convention Jan. 29 in Atlanta.

Speaking to nearly 180 Georgia Baptist pastors and their legislators, Perdue said he would be calling on churches and other faith-based agencies to join him in rebuilding lives of children and inmates needing a stable influence in their lives. The dawn breakfast was held in the James H. “Sloppy” Floyd Building overlooking the city skyline.

“The New Testament teaches that we all have an obligation to help others,” said Perdue, a Baptist layman. “I want to call on pastors to redeem people, bring them to God, and then turn them loose in service to others.

“In the near future I’ll be asking Georgia churches to help us in two new approaches called ‘One Child, One Church’ and ‘One Inmate, One Church.’ These are two areas of society that could greatly benefit from churches reaching out and wrapping their arms around others who need their support,” Perdue, a member of Second Baptist Church of Warner Robins explained.

“I want you to know that your governor is not afraid of churches or other faith-based institutions and he’s not afraid to say that Jesus Christ is his Savior. I believe that the Bible is not a passive book — that it calls us to action, and this is a wonderful opportunity for churches to play an important role in building society.

“The gospel is all about redeeming our society for the Kingdom of God. We are going to be knocking on your doors in the coming months to ask your help in being the salt and light in our world.”

Perdue said the state’s elected officials need the prayers of Georgia Baptists and “the wisdom from on high to sustain us as we implement this strategy. I’m going to call on you to pray for us because the Bible teaches that you will be disobedient if you don’t,” he said, referring to the biblical mandate for Christians to pray for their leaders.

Perdue said the two-prong approach will enable churches — such as the 3,500-strong Georgia Baptist congregations scattered across the state — to play pivotal roles by becoming involved in foster care to children who are in state custody and to inmates who will be in transition back into society.

“There are people in prison who need to remain there for a long time, but there are also those who will be moving back into society and need to be restored to a productive role in society. They will need the help of a church to give them the love and understanding and spiritual foundation to help them in their new life.

“No one is better qualified to help turn a life around than our churches,” he added.

GBC Executive Director J. Robert White stressed that the gathering “is not a political event but a spiritual event” in addressing the crowd of Georgia Baptist pastors and their legislators. Also attending were top-ranking state officials such as Secretary of State Cathy Cox, Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin, House Majority Leader Jimmy Skipper, and Richard Royal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

White said he appreciated the governor’s vision for the ministry opportunity for Georgia Baptist churches to help foster children across the state.

“I pray that every church in Georgia will be more than willing to accept the responsibility of fostering at least one child. What a blessing it would be for that child to be brought up in a Christian environment.”

Addressing the inmate proposal, White said Southern Baptist-endorsed chaplains in Georgia’s prisons “are very much aware of the need to connect inmates with churches as the individuals move back into society.”

“We will make every effort to encourage churches to be sensitive to this opportunity for ministry and to provide a Christian influence,” White said.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: GOVERNOR’S CALL.

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  • Joe Westbury